Women’s Rights in the Abortion Decision of the Slovak Constitutional Court

Adriana Lamačková   “Women’s Rights in the Abortion Decision of the Slovak Constitutional Court, Chapter 3 in Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies, ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman, and Bernard M. Dickens (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014) pp. 56-76, 397n-402n.  A Spanish edition was published in August 2016:  Ahora disponible en español.

In 2007, the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic held that abortion on a woman’s request, permitted by the law until the twelfth week of pregnancy, is consistent with the constitutional obligation to protect unborn human life. Since the end of state socialism, constitutional courts across Central Europe, including Germany, Hungary, and Poland, had asked and answered this question. The Slovak Court, however, is the only court in the region to validate abortion on request by reference to state obligations both to protect unborn human life and to respect the rights of women to reproductive self-determination. While validating certain procedural requirements before a woman can obtain abortion on request as consistent with the state’s obligation to protect unborn human life, the Slovak Court gave woman’s rights to reproductive self-determination full and equal standing in the constitutional order, using balancing as an analytical framework, according to which multiple constitutional rights and values are vindicated, none completely overruling any other, and favoring compromised rather than absolute regulation. The chapter’s final overview of subsequent legislative proposals related to abortion decision-making illustrates how the Court’s decision has transformed discourse about abortion in the country.

This third chapter of Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective illustrates how constitutional values can be used to reform abortion law in Europe and beyond. The Slovak Court, by giving full recognition and effect to the rights of women, reflects the fundamental shift in European constitutional abortion law explored in previous chapters, “The Constitutionalization of Abortion” by Reva Siegel and “Abortion Law in Portugal: New Trends in European Constitutionalism,” by Ruth Rubio Marin.

A Spanish edition of this book was published in August 2016:  Ahora disponible en español.

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